Local Heroes: Hull's Trawlermen

Life in Hull's Fishing Community

The trawlermen and people who worked on the docks and in the factories along the docks all tended to live in the Hessle Road area of Hull.


Because life was so hard for the trawlermen and their families, Hull's fishing community had a real 'community spirit'. There was a caring and friendly atmosphere and people helped their neighbours. Hessle Road has been called 'a village within a city' by local historian Alec Gill, MBE and it was often seen as set apart from the rest of the city. 

 

What was it like to be trawlerman at home?

Hull's trawlermen had a very macho image, which is not surprising, considering the hard job they had to do. But despite this, Alec Gill says the trawlermen were quite 'dandy', which means that they were very elegant and refined dressers. 


One tradition of the trawlermen was to visit their tailor when they returned from a fishing trip, to be measured for some stylish new clothes. They often wore trousers with high waistbands, wide bottoms and moon pockets, with matching jackets in a range of colours, from sky blue to shocking pink!

 

Three-Day Millionaires

Hull's trawlermen were called the 'three-day millionaires'. This was because they were only home for about three days at a time, before they went off on another fishing trip. If they had a good trip and caught lots of fish they would get their "settlings" and could walk home feeling like a millionaire! 


The trawlermen had only three days to enjoy themselves and so they often treated their families to meals out, bought new things and went out to enjoy themselves at the local pub. Life at sea was extremely hard and dangerous, so Hull's trawlermen enjoyed life to the full.

 

What was it like to be a Trawlerman's wife?

The wives of the trawlermen received a small regular wage while their husbands were away. This made sure that they could buy food, clothes and household items and didn't have to wait until their husbands got back from a fishing trip. If the wives didn't work, this would have been their only income. 


The day that all the wives went to the Dock Offices to collect this wage was called 'white stocking day'. This saying dates back to when the whalers' wives in Hull used to do exactly the same when their husbands were away. It is called 'white stocking' day because in Victorian times, when Hull was a major whaling city, the wives would have all worn white stockings.

 

It must have been hard for the trawlermen's wives while the men were away at sea, but they got by and all helped each other. In fact the ladies of Hessle Road became known for their strength of character and their ability to get by in hard times. Every three weeks, when the men got back from sea the wives all used to say that they became 'Princesses'. The trawlermen were only back for three days, before they had to go again, so they made the most of their time at home by treating their families.


Glossary:

Atmosphere - a feeling you get in a place

Community - a group of people who live in the same area

Dandy - a man who tries to dress very smartly and fashionably

Income - money someone receives, usually in return for work

Macho - someone who acts in a way that is traditionally seen as 'manly'

Refined - someone who has polite or smart tastes or habits

Stockings - clothes worn to cover the legs, like long socks or tights

Tailor - someone who makes clothes by hand

Whaling - hunting and using whales for food or products

 

(With  thanks to Mr Alec Gill, MBE)


This is where Hessle Road is in Hull»



 
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